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Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks is a gold rush town deep in Alaska’s interior, built by miners after gold was discovered in 1902. It still has a frontier feel, and serves as gateway to the Arctic North Slope villages. This is the land of the aurora borealis or northern Lights - rippling ribbons of green, yellow, orange, red, and blue light best seen from December to March. In winter, you can view this phenomenon from the warm aurorium at the Chena Hot Springs Resort.

On a summer visit, discover the Large Animal Research Station, where you can safely observe musk oxen, caribou, and reindeer. The El Dorado Gold Mine two-hour train tour is worth looking into - it winds on a narrow track through a reconstructed gold mining camp. Then head to the Chena River for wilderness for rafting, canoeing, and kayaking.

Sam's Sourdough Café serves sourdough pancakes any time of day. Try the brisket, ribs, and corn at Big Daddy's, "the northernmost southern barbecue," and enjoy live music on weekend nights. Or, why not head a few miles out of town to the Blue Loon for live bands, dancing, and a lot of good beer.

Photo 1: Gary Schultz/Chena Hot Springs Resort
Photo 2: Evan Rainey/FCVB
Photo 3: Frank Flavin